Attention Historian Peter Ward : Immigration Cannot Be A Welfare Program For Asia
The purpose of UBC History Professor Peter Ward’s book, “White Canada Forever”, written in 1978, is to ridicule what he calls Canada’s “nativist” (racist) past. That period would have been the 1870’s to the late 1940’s. According to Ward, Canadians had tried to create during that time a largely “homogeneous society”. Ward has no sympathy for their efforts. The title he chooses demonstrates his contempt. He describes these efforts as “irrational”. He never defines multiculturalism, but at the time of his writing (1978), he obviously believed that Canada should have much more Asian immigration in order to become more “multicultural”. In fact, he holds up a heterogeneous or “multicultural” country as a model or utopia. But he suggests that Canadians are deluding themselves if they think that Canada “evolved…harmoniously as a multicultural society”.
The problem with his analysis is that the changes he advocated in 1978 and which he implies would create a virtual utopia, have become a reality in 2011. But many Canadians would not say that this creation is a utopia. In fact, they would probably use the word “dystopia” to characterize what has occurred. And nowhere is that more obvious than at UBC where Ward has taught and in the Vancouver area where he has lived. In other words, many Canadians would say that the people that Ward damns were right and he is wrong.
Ward begins his book by saying that most writers who had studied the Asian question in British Columbia had assumed or concluded that cheap Asian labour was the main cause of conflicts between Asians and whites.
In Ward’s view, those writers were wrong. Canada’s efforts to create a largely homogeneous society which greatly restricted Asian immigration were immoral. Nativism caused the conflict. Ward is aware that at the time that he wrote, ethnic wars in Yugoslavia and Rwanda had not yet happened, but he undoubtedly knew of many countries that had failed or suffered greatly because they lacked homogeneity. However, Ward is not bothered by things like this because he is more of a propagandist for multiculturalism and diversity (and Canada’s immigration lobby) than a historian.
Ward scoffs at the argument of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s that Canada had to protect itself culturally against an Asian flood. Ward quotes a journalist who says that at that time, Japan had 40 million people, India had 250+ million and China had 400 million.
But he does not mention that around 1900, Canada had a population of just over 5 million and thus was extremely vulnerable to being overwhelmed. Today, with China’s population at 1.2 billion (over 3 times their 1900 population), and India over 5 times, China and India are the two most populated countries in the world. If immigration had not been restricted from these two countries in particular, but Japan as well which now has about 130 million people, all 3 of these countries could have overwhelmed Canada.
Ward does not say that Canadians used environmental reasons to protect Canada. But it is clear that protecting Canada from the crowded conditions of Asia was one of their goals. Some people in Japan, India and China probably knew even then that their countries were well beyond their ability to support their populations. Without the resources of other parts of the world, their people were doomed either to poverty or a very low standard of living. To compensate for over-population, all were relying on emigration of their own people or remittances from their temporary labourer. citizens who had traveled to countries like Canada. Ward admits this when he describes the first East Indians who came to B.C. Ward says that they came because of “population pressures”. He says that in 1904, the population density of Hoshiarpur (part of the Punjab) was 867 persons per square mile of arable land, obviously well on the road to conditions in a sardine can. He does not mention a similar figure for Canada, but for Canada’s habitable areas, the figure would have been very small. If Ward had bothered to gather information about population density in China and Japan, he could have said things about the environmental state of China and Japan that were very similar to what he said about Hoshiarpur.
Ward’s book is not especially persuasive. The reason is that the evidence he provides is not strong. However, it is important because his allegations have produced considerable fodder for immigration profiteers, ethnic groups and academics. Ward’s goal is to burden Canadians with guilt and to imply that the only way Canada can absolve itself from committing the “eighth deadly sin” (that of defending itself) is to allow as many people of colour as possible into Canada . It does not matter that Canada has absolutely no economic need for most of the immigrants who are arriving here. Dear me, logic and common sense like that could never be the cornerstone of immigration policy.
For Ward, the new goal of Canada’s immigration policy had to be white repentance. Immigration of people of colour , particularly of Asians, would be justice finally achieved. In the process, Canadian-born are to be treated with contempt. Welfare to Asia, in the form of allowing huge numbers of Asians as immigrants, is more important. As Canadians have seen, programs like “Hire an Immigrant” and “Employment Equity for visible minorities” embody the contempt that Canada shows for its own people and ensure that Canadian-born will be displaced.
Furthermore and ultimately, if the real purpose of multiculturalism is to be achieved, the society created by Canada’s first colonizers, the French and English, has to be erased.
There is no shortage of those in the educational system and elsewhere willing to recognize Ward as an authority and eager to put this policy into effect. For example, Patti Bacchus, head of the Vancouver School Board which oversees 50,000+ students, has recently advocated that attention and financing be transferred from French immersion to Mandarin immersion programs. Vancouver Sun columnist Pete McMartin has applauded her. It seems not to have occurred to either to ask why Metro Vancouver had acquired a huge Asian population almost overnight. Clearly, neither know.
Like them, Ward thinks that a major demographic change should not be resisted. The best course is to lie down and allow the outsiders to have their way with Canada.
Ward heaps scorn on Canadians for their past treatment of the Chinese. He says attitudes towards the Chinese had originated in Europe. Ironically, attitudes there had been quite positive up to the Napoleonic era. But from that time on, China was seen as backward. The dirty, crowded Chinatown in Vancouver in the late 1800’s entrenched the negative view. However, anyone who knows even a small amount about conflict between whites and Chinese in Canada realizes that Chinese labour contractors were the cause of much of the conflict. Contractors paid for the transportation of Chinese labourers to Canada and then made these labourers available at cut-rate wages to all employers until the labourers had paid for their tickets. This practice became entrenched in the 1880’s and was the start of an enormous amount of hostility between Chinese and whites.
The fact that Ward devotes only a small amount of space to the role that these contractors played in significant incidents in Asian-White relations should raise a red flag.
The incident which best explains the role of Asian labour contractors is the 1907 Vancouver Riot which, ironically, was caused by Japanese labour contractors. After the imposition of the $500 Chinese Head Tax in 1907, Chinese labour contractors realized that importing Chinese labourers was no longer profitable. Immediately, Japanese labour contractors saw a great business opportunity and arranged with the CPR to import a large number (possibly up to two thousand) Japanese labourers to displace whites who comprised the majority of the CPR’s western Canadian, 5000 member work force.
This event sheds an enormous amount of light on what Chinese labour contractors had been getting away with for the preceding 25 years. Ward says almost nothing about this. In doing so, he clearly shows that he is cherry-picking the evidence he has chosen in order to condemn the white population.
To do this, Ward focuses on how whites, as early as the 1870’s, began to establish the basic criteria for full admission to their community, a major one being whiteness. He says that anti-Oriental feeling rose and fell. In fact, Ward implies that anti-Orientalism was a virtual disease that whites suffered from, characterized by periodic remissions.
Ward says that the Chinese population in B.C. exploded in the 1880’s. This happened because Chinese labour contractors brought Chinese labourers to work on the trans-Canada railway. Ward notes that B.C. did not have a large enough work-force to supply the demand for railway workers. One question which Canadians will ask is this : Why did the CPR not look for workers in other parts of Canada? After all, those parts were much closer than China. Ward says that the decision to import Chinese workers was made purely because the Chinese could be paid less. By doing this, he suggests that whites had as good a reason to resent the Chinese in the early 1880’s as they did when employers later hired the Chinese as strike-breakers.
Ward does provide some interesting background. He says that Asian access to theatres and public facilities was restricted. This was probably unfair. He says that outbreaks of smallpox were traced to Chinese bringing the disease from China. He also tells of cases of leprosy amongst the Chinese. For example, a leper colony had to be established on D’Arcy Island just outside of Victoria. A total of 48 Chinese lepers lived there over the 34 years it existed. Ward rightly notes that white immigrants brought diseases with them also. But he has to ask : Was it irrational, as he alleges, to be afraid of Asians with a then-incurable, communicable disease like leprosy and to use fear of the disease to restrict Chinese immigration ? How did he react to the SARS outbreak which originated in China and spread to parts of Canada in the 1990’s?
Regarding the Japanese, Ward provides much interesting information. In fact, he clearly shows a much stronger interest in the Japanese than in other Asian groups. He notes that the Japanese were respected because Japan had accepted western ways and Japanese labourers were willing to adapt to Canada. However, he also notes that Japan’s victory over Russia in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 was a major turning point in white-Japanese relations in Canada. From that time, whites grew increasingly suspicious and afraid of Japan’s militarism. Prior to and after this event, Japan’s consul in Vancouver repeatedly interfered in Canadian politics to protect the rights of Japanese in Canada. This reinforced the notion that naturalized Japanese in Canada (who had dual citizenship) were really more connected to Japan than to Canada. The fact that Japanese fishermen became a dominant force in B.C.’s fishing industry re-inforced white fears of more and more Asian worker “take-overs” of other industries.
To counteract 1908 restrictions on male Japanese labourers, the Japanese in Canada brought many thousands of Japanese “picture brides” here. This practice distinguished the Japanese from the Chinese. Ward points out that the Japanese never comprised a significant percentage of the population. But whites feared that the very high Japanese birth rate would negate any gains Canada made by imposing immigration restrictions on the number of Japanese males allowed into Canada.
Ward also points out that Japanese spies and fifth columnists had played a significant role in Japan’s victories in pre-WW2. Fears of the same occurring in Canada were strong and eventually contributed to the internment of Japanese-Canadians after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour at the beginning of WW2.
Ward ends his book by saying that 3 events helped to change mainstream Canadian attitudes to Asians. The first was that WW2 ended, Japan was defeated and fear of Japan subsided. The second was that race-based atrocities by Germany in WW2 were revealed, making white Canadians more sensitive to the race issue. The third was that China was an ally of the West in WW2, and China’s shared Japanese-atrocity experiences with Canadian soldiers had created a bond with the West.
It has been about 33 years since Professor Ward proclaimed he was right, that two generations of Canadians were wrong, and that those two generations should be relegated to the lowest circle of Hell. Ward and others have clearly succeeded in the latter two efforts. Nothing reveals this better than, for example, the fact that a mere mention of the Chinese Head Tax elicits a robotic sympathetic response for the Chinese. The same applies to Canada’s internment of Japanese Canadians in WW2.
The great irony is that many of the people who respond robotically would agree that in China’s case, today’s China has a strong economic advantage in the world precisely because China’s labourers work for a pittance compared to labourers in the West. Ironically, today’s calls for an upward valuation of Chinese currency are very much like 19th century calls for a Chinese Head Tax. Most countries today support this policy. Would Ward call them “nativists” for doing this?
If Ward or anyone else were to look around the UBC campus, they would see that early Canadian fears that Asia’s millions (now billions) would culturally overwhelm Canada have come true at UBC. UBC’s student population of 50,000 is well over 50% Asian. Most of those students are post-1990 immigrants who arrived here because Canada’s corrupt immigration policy has allowed in 250,000 immigrants per year, a total of over 5 million since 1990. In addition, UBC has hired a significant number of Asian faculty, probably solely because of their race (Employment Equity). Most Canadians will accept some Asian immigration, but most do not want Canada to become predominantly Asian.
If Ward were honest, he would admit that Asian countries have no interest in becoming White. They would never have tolerated what has happened to Canada since 1990. Would he be so illogical as to accuse them of being “nativists” for resisting an ethnic transformation?
Ward has seen dramatic demographic events unfold under his nose. If he were truly interested in justice, why has he not published a book on the Canadian dystopia which he has helped to create for Canadian students and workers?
The fact that UBC’s Faculty of History has cheer-led immigration corruption is a sign that they, like Ward, feel no shame. There is no doubt now that Ward was wrong and that the people whom he damned (because they showed some courage) should be rescued and restored to a place of dignity.
We repeat : Ward has damned two generations of Canadians with his sloppy research. What greater stroke of poetic justice could there be than for Ward to receive the same fate?